ARITF update: ‘Genuine desire to get this right’ paces work of Ministry Check website

Baptist Press article by Scott Barkley, national correspondent for Baptist Press. 

DALLAS (BP) — The Ministry Check website will soon be the central hub for all Southern Baptist abuse reform updates – past and present – in addition to hosting resources for churches. 

Individual reports on steps among state conventions also join the latest update of the Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force (ARITF) at 

The ARITF, commissioned by Southern Baptists to continue overseeing the convention’s response in addressing sexual abuse reform, met Dec. 4 in Dallas. 

“We are having conversations we weren’t having three years ago,” said Mississippi pastor and ARITF member Brad Eubank in a statement to Baptist Press. “So, to see these resources coming together out of the years of hard work many have done before us is so encouraging. When I talk on the phone with pastors in my state about how to care well for survivors and ensure this scourge doesn’t continue, I hear a genuine desire to get this right.” 

Existing resources in the ministry toolkit are designed around the concepts of training, screening, protecting, reporting and caring. 

New resources are currently in development, said Eubank, and will be made available at the 2024 SBC Annual Meeting in Indianapolis. Ministry context will be taken into consideration, with resources available in digital, print and on thumb drives. 

“They want resources to make sure their churches are safe and … aren’t causing any harm to anyone,” he said of fellow pastors. “I’m excited to be able to bring these resources to SBC24 in Indianapolis next year and we’re praying they will serve many, many churches.” 

The update continued with a list of state conventions’ steps on addressing sexual abuse reform. More will be added as information becomes available. 

While acknowledging criticism over work pace, AIRTF chairman Josh Wester also thanked Southern Baptists and encouraged them to be diligent. 

“Let’s not grow weary in doing good,” Wester said. “All of us wish we were further along in this process. At the same time, we are years ahead of where so many ever thought we would be in changing the culture of the SBC on sexual abuse.” 

The ARITF meets in person every two months with frequent Zoom meetings interspersed. The next in-person meeting is scheduled for Feb. 5. 

“I’m convinced that the work this task force is doing, which is built upon almost five years of previous effort, will not be in vain,” Wester added. “We will continue to do all we can to better care for survivors and ensure that future generations of Southern Baptists can joyfully worship in our churches without ever experiencing the pain or devastation wrought by sexual abuse. 

“We must finish what we started in implementing abuse reform across the SBC.” 

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